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Asordo Bennett leaves the Mesopotamia Magistrate's Court sitting at Calliaqua on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.
Asordo Bennett leaves the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court sitting at Calliaqua on Wednesday, July 26, 2023.
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The Rillan Hill man who contested the 2020 general election as an independent candidate has been fined EC$12,000 for unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Magistrate Bertie Pompey imposed the fines on Asordo Bennett, having found him guilty of charges that on Feb. 24, at Pembroke, he had in his possession one TP9SA 9mm pistol, serial number T6472-16API8943 and three rounds of 9mm ammunition, without a licence issued under the Firearms Act.

The magistrate said he would have jailed Bennett for three years had he not decided on a fine.

He noted that the law says that the maximum penalty for possession of an unlicensed firearm on summary conviction is a fine of EC$20,000 or seven years imprisonment or both.

Pompey established a starting point of two years and eight months imprisonment.

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He noted that Bennett had a loaded weapon, which was relatively heavy as it was a 9mm pistol.

Pompey saw these as aggravating features of the offence, in addition to the prevalence of firearm offences in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

There were no mitigating features of the offence.

Aggravating of the offender was that Bennett showed no remorse and he misrepresented officers of the court via a Facebook post, the magistrate said.

Pompey was the second magistrate to comment on Bennett’s conduct on social media during trials on the matter.

In March 2022, during a trial of the same charges, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne recused herself after Bennett made certain allegations against her on Facebook.

Browne said Bennett’s “manifestly untrue” statements on Facebook made it impossible for her to continue to hear the matter.

Meanwhile, Pompey concluded there was nothing mitigating of the offender.

Asked why he should not be sent to prison, Bennett, a father of two who said that a woman who he impregnated “had pain this morning”, told the court:

“I am presently educating myself to be a politician or a financial advisor.” 

Bennet said he has “medical” to do overseas soon and he also has a “seminar” he has to attend overseas.

He further told the court he was paying EC$2,400 monthly on a loan and that he is a law-abiding citizen.

“And you carried a firearm without a licence?”  Pompey asked Bennett who in 2004 was sentenced to one and a half years in prison.

Bennett asked the court to impose a fine.

“Charge me a fine and I can pay some or all on the spot. I am asking your worship to consider the circumstances.”

However, prosecutor Corporal Delando Charles told the court, “All the reasons Bennett stated can also be done behind walls.”

Charles was standing in for Corporal 817 Stapleton, who prosecuted the matter.

Charles said that he was aware of the four pillars of sentencing, namely, retribution, rehabilitation, deterrence and rehabilitation.

He said a strong message must be sent to the public when it comes to firearm offences.

For the firearm offence, the magistrate imposed a fine of EC$10,000 to be paid in two months or three years imprisonment.

On the ammunition charge, Bennett was ordered to pay EC$2,000 in two months or spend one year in prison.

Bennett arrived 50 minutes late in Calliaqua, where the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court sat on Wednesday. The hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m.

On his last court appearance, Bennett asked Pompey for an adjournment saying, “I got a lady pregnant and she dey to drop so I would like some time to assist her.”

Pompey granted a two weeks adjournment after hearing from Bennett’s two witnesses.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Pompey noted that the trial has been ongoing for an extended period of time and said there were some inconsistencies in the evidence.

He said that in Bennett’s evidence, Bennett said that his witnesses Zeon Ballantyne, his cousin, and Marley Young were taken in a police vehicle while four officers went with Bennett in his vehicle and at some point, another group of four police officers came and drove to Layou in Bennett’s vehicle.

Pompey said that among other inconsistencies, Bennett said the gun and ammunition were found on the floor of the front passenger seat where one “Mr. Smith” was sitting.

In November 2020, Bennett contested the general election in the South Leeward constituency as an independent candidate

Nigel Stephenson of the opposition New Democratic Party retained the seat for a third consecutive five-year term, defeating Bennet and Minerva Glasgow of the ruling Unity Labour Party.

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